Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) won the X2O Badkamers Flandriencross in Hamme on Saturday. Sweeck beat series leader Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) in a two-up sprint with Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) riding in for third place and Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) in fourth.
Aerts increased his lead to 6:35 minutes in the X2O Badkamers series with two rounds to go in Lille and Brussels. He now has a commanding lead of 4:42 ahead of Iserbyt and 8:36 ahead of Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).
Aerts, who started the race more than four minutes ahead in the series lead, opened his account in Hamme at the front of the field and led through the first lap, picking up the bonus seconds on offer, and with Corné van Kessel (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) trailing close behind.
Pidcock had a noticeably slower start after being caught in the mud and early-race traffic further back on the opening lap. Likewise, runner-up in the series, Iserbyt crashed through a tight bend on the first lap, causing a bit of a hold up, but by the start of the second lap, he pushed forward into third position on course.
Gaps began to open up on the second lap with Aerts stretching out his lead over Van Kessel, followed by a select group of chasers Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammates Iserbyt, Sweeck, and Vanthourenhout, and then slightly further back, Pidcock and Lars van der Haar.
Aerts set his own steady pace, and with nearly flawless technical skill, held a gap 25 seconds throughout the fourth lap. Further back, Pidcock gradually found his legs and closed the gaps to the main chase group. He moved passed riders one-by-one until he was leading the chase with Sweeck and Iserbyt in tow.
Pidcock almost single-handedly slashed the gap to Aerts to mere seconds on the fifth lap and the only rider who could match the blistering pace was Sweeck, who barely hung onto the Ineos-Grenadiers rider's wheel.
Iserbyt wasn't completely out of contention but a gap opened as he struggled to hang onto Pidcock and Sweeck.
Pidcock made the connection to Aerts partway through the fifth lap and left nothing to chance as he surged passed the Belgian to take the front of the race. He led Aerts through the start-finish line at the start of lap 6 but the Belgian found himself bogged down through a section of deep mud and was forced to spend precious energy to close the gap to his rival.
Sweeck, and then Iserbyt, managed to claw their way closer to the leading duo as Pidcock let off the gas ever so slightly, to find some reprieve, with four laps to go.
The tables turned heading into the last three laps and all of a sudden Sweeck was out front with Aerts on his wheel through the finish line. Pidcock raced through one second behind with Iserbyt after it appeared he needed a quick stop in the mechanic pit for a change of wheels.
The British rider wound up the pace, once again, and closed the gap to Sweek and Aerts with two laps to go, ultimately resetting the race between the top four riders.
Teammates Sweeck and Iserbyt took turns surging over the small hills and through the mud and tight bends, but it wasn't enough to shake Aerts and Pidcock.
As the bell rang signifying the last lap, Pidcock looked in prime position to contest the win, surging to the front with Aerts and Sweeck behind, but an untimely crash took him out of contention for the victory.
Aerts was forced to field multiple blows from the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammates Sweeck and Iserbyt, but he pulled each one back with a show of steady strength.
Sweeck made one last-lap attack and Aerts brought him back in the final turns on course. Sweeck led the pair onto the pavement and into a two-up sprint, and although Aerts challenged in the sprint at the line, it was Sweeck who took the win.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||2:51:00|
|2||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions|
|3||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:20|
|4||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:00:33|
|5||Thomas Pidcock (GBr)||0:00:47|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:49|
|7||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:15|
|8||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Cx Team Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes||0:01:29|
|9||Clement Venturini (Fra)||0:01:34|
|10||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:41|
|11||Timon Rüegg (Swi) Cross Team Legendre||0:02:06|
|12||Ben Turner (GBr)||0:02:21|
|13||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa)||0:02:38|
|14||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:02:45|
|15||Lander Loockx (Bel) Cx Team Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes||0:02:46|
|16||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:03:16|
|17||Mathijs Wuyts (Bel)||0:03:51|
|18||Julian Siemons (Bel)||0:04:38|
|19||Arne Vrachten (Bel)||0:05:00|
|20||Seppe Rombouts (Bel)||0:05:07|
|21||Ugo Ananie (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:05:08|
|22||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)||0:05:27|
|23||Koen Van Dijke (Ned)||0:06:07|
|24||Thomas Verheyen (Bel)||0:06:32|
|25||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|26||Siebe Tormans (Bel)|
|27||Jonathan Anderson (USA)|
|28||Yelle Leaerts (Bel)|
|29||Julien Kaise (Bel)|
|30||Maarten Van Staeyen (Bel)|
|31||Andy Ruts (Bel)|
|32||Gauthier Heymes (Fra)|
|DNF||Jens Adams (Bel)|
|DNF||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Iko - Crelan|
|DNF||Grégory Careme (Bel)|
|DNF||Jens Gys (Bel)|
|DNF||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)|
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